So not too far back you probably came across an article that stated how traditional martial arts is the future of mixed martial arts. It’s an opinion that I still stand by wholeheartedly. The distance management, the selection of strikes, the variety and movement, traditional martial arts striking has all the factors needed to bring a fighter’s game to the next level. Brazilian jiu-jitsu wizard Ryan Hall is one fighter who has embraced the idea of traditional martial arts bolstering his game.
At The Ultimate Fighter finale Ryan Hall showed new wrinkles in his game against the veteran Gray Maynard in a match that ended up feeling decidedly disjointed. When the fight was contested on the feet, Hall demonstrated exactly what he’d been working on since teaming up with karate masters Ray and Stephen Thompson.
You could see the similarities in their styles from the way Stephen Thompson and now Ryan Hall bounced in the southpaw stance, circling and cutting angles and utilizing long range kicks of different variety to keep their opponent guessing. The biggest difference in their approach: where Thompson looks to knock out his opponent, Ryan Hall is looking to use his strikes to set up his grappling game.
That’s what made the fight with Maynard so frustrating.
Hall consistently threw kicks that landed flush, particularly the hook kick that smashed into Maynard’s grill almost at will. The problem is right when Maynard chose to counter back with strikes of his own Hall was diving for the legs in hopes of catching the veteran in a heel hook submission. While it may be have been a smart and effective approach, the fact that it slowed down the action was more than irritating to observe. The crowd at the Palms didn’t appreciate the tactical approach to Hall’s game, and even when it was quite obvious that his strategy was working, it took the “fight” out of fighting. Yes, not all fights are going to be barnburner slug fests, but the point of fighting is to prove you are the superior combatant. Hall proved that his striking is effective, but when he faces someone who has equal parts striking and grappling, he’ll have to learn to bite down on his mouthpiece and endeavor to trade blows.
What did you think of Ryan Hall’s performance?